arts
Moves Like Saran

Choreographer and dancer Saran Kohli represents Asians on global platform

Posted: 16.04.15

International festival of hip-hop dance theatre Breakin’ Convention welcomes British Asian Saran Kohli for its 12 year anniversary. After over a decade, Sadler Wells Production Breakin’ Convention is now one of the biggest hip–hop dance festivals in the world. London based choreographer and ethnic menswear designer Saran Kohli is the first British Asian to be performing at this globally known festival. We asked Saran how it feels to have this honour bestowed upon him: ‘It’s a huge achievement to be on stage and perform alongside some great talents. What I feel most proud of is the opportunity to be on stage, being true to who I am, and that being accepted. My performance will be offbeat and modern, whilst staying true to my Sikh heritage, as I will be wearing a turban.’

Saran is a graduate from Broadway Dance Centre and is part of dance companies and top training academies in London. He plays the second lead in Andrea Walker’s, If You Leave production. When we asked Saran to describe his style of dance, he explained: ‘I call it streetorial, which is a mix of fashion and dance. It represents a combination of the gentleman’s swagger, along with elements of hip hop moves, like popping and locking. Put together, it is a gentleman telling a story through stylised hip hop.’ At the age of 17, he launched his own dance company called Snach ENT, a fusion hip hop troupe, which helped him gain performance platforms across the UK and internationally in New York, as well as in India. Saran reveals his premise for teaching dance: ‘Young Asian kids think they can only do bhangra/Bollywood, and although there is nothing wrong with that, just because you’re Asian doesn’t mean you can’t learn other genres – you should never be labeled.’

Passionate about dance from the age of four years old, Saran’s dance idols include Michael Jackson, and South India’s well-known choreographer and dancer, Prabhu Deva. Fortunately for Saran, his family has always been supportive of his passion for dance, but for those who are not so lucky, he motivates with the following uplifting advice: ‘Nurture your talent. Dance can be a tough industry, but if you work hard, explore yourself, learn and educate yourself and be smart – you will know to make the right decisions, and that’s how you will go far.’

He will be performing his piece Molecules of a Dream to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which incorporates his two talents of design and dance to produce a masterpiece symbolising hope, freedom and happiness through dance. Saran explains how this concept conspired: ‘Although it might not be an obvious choice for a hip hop dance, I chose Bohemian Rhapsody due to the first lyrics of the song ‘Is this the real life? Is this a fantasy?’, as it also tied in well with the title of my dance Molecules of a Dream, which is all about a dream coming together and being whatever you want to be. Hip hop is a global genre – it doesn’t matter where you’re from, and that’s what this piece represents. His piece will demonstrate molecules that clash with social and economic edifice. Saran will perform alongside international companies in this four-day festival on the 3rd of May at 6pm, which is hosted by Associate Artist Jonzi D. 

Get tickets for Breakin’ Convention here
To find out more about Saran Kohli see his website
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Words: Gayatri Pillai
Interview: Fariha Sabir

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